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Talking Turkey-Cooking Pointers and other Ramblings

What's the difference between "Free-range" and "Pasture raised"?    Glad you asked :) 

Free Range poultry are, according to the USDA, allowed to be labeled that way if they are "exposed to the outside".  Meaning that they only have to be allowed access to the outside.  This does not mean that they are on the range or free.  They may very well be in a large pen without grass, limited access outside and fed solely grain mixtures.  Check out your free-range grower and find out. 

Pasture raised means just that.  They are raised on pasture.  Our turkeys are turned outside once they are old enough to withstand the cool evenings and they stay out there.  They have over 40 acres of pasture that they run around on, happily gobbling up whatever comes across their path. 

Rest assured our birds are truly "Free Range" and "Pasture Raised".

Cooking Tips for a Happy Meal~

When you get your pasture raised bird home keep it in the refrigerator or in an ice chest.  Remember that your turkey is not saline injected and doesn't have a built in thermometer.  It has had a diet of green grass, seed heads and bugs along with some grain.  I think you will notice a difference and love the flavor. 
Betty Crocker has it Wrong!!   You will need a good meat thermometer.  For a juicy, tender turkey, don't overcook.  Many meat thermometers and cookbooks say to cook your turkey to 180 degrees.  Not anymore...The USDA recommends an internal temperature of 165 degrees.  That would be in the thickest part of the breast and/or thigh.  The turkey will continue to cook a bit once it is taken out of the oven.  If it gets overdone it will be dry and tough.  Watch it closely once you hit about 145 degrees.  The temp goes up fast after that.  I like to cook my birds in a roaster with a little liquid in the bottom and baste it with olive oil, butter or bacon, herbs and salt and pepper to taste.  If you uncover it the last hour or so it will be nice and brown.  Stuffing can make cooking times increase by 1/2 -1 hour.  Let your turkey rest 20 minutes before slicing.

Recommended cooking times vary quite a bit but I will list them with the thought that you will also use a thermometer to check the internal temp as the best way to know when dinner is done.

*If you have the opportunity I would love to have your feedback after Thanksgiving.  Any suggestions, recipes, etc. would be appreciated along with what you thought about our turkeys.  Thank you!

*We hope your day is not only delicious but filled with those that make it special.

Approximate Cooking Times @ 325 for Unstuffed Turkeys:

>4-6 lb             1 1/2 to 2 1/4 hrs
>6-8 lb             2 1/2 to 3 1/4 hrs
>8-12 lbs          2 3/4 to 3 hrs
>12-14 lbs        3 to 3 3/4 hrs
>14-18 lbs        3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hrs
>18-20 lbs        4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hrs
>20 to 24 lbs    4 3/4 to 5 hrs

Note:  Our turkeys tend to cook faster than what is recommended above.  A 20# stuffed, fresh, pasture raised turkey took me only 3 1/2 hrs to roast @ 325.  The meat was falling off the legs in about 3 hours.  Remember, internal temperature of 165 degrees for a moist bird.